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Museums ‘swap’ Instagram accounts to promote one another

Sixteen Boston museums, including the Museum of Science and institutions “swapped” Instagram accounts for an entire day to promote each other.

If you scrolled through Instagram Thursday morning and were confused as to why the Museum of Fine Arts was posting pictures of the Leonardo DaVinci exhibit at the Museum of Science; and why the Museum of Science was sharing images of a paint-spattered canvas at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum — don’t worry, it’s not a glitch in the app. Your phone is working just fine.

Sixteen Boston museums and institutions “swapped” Instagram accounts for an entire day for the “BostonInstaSwap,” an effort to promote and share what other cultural organizations in the region — from Boston to Salem — have to offer visitors who may have never visited before.


The project is about “making and sharing museum love,” according to details about the one-day campaign, which sends employees from a respective museum to somewhere else, camera in hand.

Lauren Marshall, from the Harvard Art Museums, coordinated the initiative, which kicked off at 10 a.m., with the MFA’s communications team.

“We are so fortunate to be part of the rich arts and cultural landscape of Greater Boston; this was a great way to showcase the diversity of our cultural institutions together,” she said in an e-mail.

Institutions were randomly assigned when pairing off. Staff members from each museum had met and drew names out of a hat in early October, when planning for the daylong event.

Participants included the New England Aquarium, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.

Melissa Woods, a spokeswoman for the Peabody Essex Museum, said in an e-mail that similar “Museum Instaswaps” have been organized in the past, in places rich with educational tourist attractions like London and New York City.

The Peabody Essex Museum was posting to its account images from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum Thursday, said Woods. The organization shared images of Kismet, MIT’s resident robot; art from the Hart Nautical Collection; and Harold Edgerton’s stop-motion photograph the “milk-drop coronet.”


“All cultural institutions, regardless of their focus, share a common goal of stimulating curiosity and enriching life through learning,” said Woods.

The MIT Museum, in turn, was lucky enough to draw the Museum of Fine Arts, said Tina McCarthy, an MIT Museum spokeswoman.

“It has been really fascinating to draw parallels from MIT to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and to get to know our colleagues across Boston and Cambridge,” she said.

And the MFA? They popped over to the Museum of Science. While there, they showed off its “Butterfly Garden,” posting an image of a butterfly resting on a plant; and the Yawkey Gallery on the Charles River.

“We wanted to collaborate with our fellow museums and showcase the range of each other’s offerings— from the arts to science to history. It’s also been so much fun finding connections —both expected and unexpected —among our collections,” said Karen Frascona, a spokeswoman from the MFA. “Who knew that the New England Aquarium would be able to track down a shark at the Gardner Museum? It’s a great way to bring our communities together and celebrate arts and culture in Boston.”

Below is a list of who “swapped” with whom:

DeCordova is at Historic New England

Gardner Museum is at the Children’s Museum


Rose Art Museum is at the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture

Harvard Art Museums is at the USS Constitution

MIT List is at the New England Aquarium

ICA Boston is at JFK Library & Museum

Museum of Science is at the Rose Art Museum

Peabody Essex Museum is at the MIT Museum

MFA Boston is at the Museum of Science

MIT Museum is at MFA Boston

New England Aquarium is at the Gardner Museum

Harvard Museums of Science and Culture is at the ICA Boston

Children’s Museum is at the DeCordova

USS Constitution is at MIT List

Historic New England is at the Harvard Art Museums

JFK Library & Museum is at Peabody Essex Museum

Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.